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Design with Comfort

As anthropogenic climate change destabilizes a fixed idea of climate, it is also destabilizing a fixed idea of comfort.

Published onOct 24, 2019
Design with Comfort
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Abstract

As anthropogenic climate change destabilizes a fixed idea of climate, it is also destabilizing a fixed idea of comfort. Comfort, like climate, can no longer be understood as a steady index of energetic balance, but is now recognized as condition of flux on which human activity has a direct impact. In this new context, design with comfort can be an effective extension of earlier directives to design with climate. Design with comfort extends architecture’s immaterial and discursive aspects to bring attention to more a flexible (in terms of temperature) and inclusive (in terms of populations) concept of comfort. Design with comfort seeks to exploit comfort’s latent potential in cultural and aesthetic dimensions. Using comfort to relate climate to construction positions it squarely within architecture culture, and suggests a shared project for a more inclusive group of academics and practitioners. Design with comfort also adds a new aesthetic dimension to creative design practice by actively designing comfort experiences. Today’s dominant comfort model holds that comfort is a static state of thermal neutrality that varies little between different locations, different seasons, and different people. In the context of an architectural studio, designing with comfort asks students to consider how comfort is entangled with more familiar elements of design such as form, materials, program and site. Directly addressing comfort as part of design process helps to demonstrate its historical legacy, establish its currency as part of today’s environmental reality, and encourage students to think creatively about its implications and possibilities.

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